Those of us who live in Los Angeles have it pretty good; the amicable weather, the endless entertainment and gastronomy options, the healthy lifestyles - it doesn’t get much better. Still, if you send a girl out in LA traffic twice a day five times a week, she’s bound to get pretty burnt out.
For a quick fix, you can hop over to Runyon for a hike or head to the yoga studio to get a few chaturangas out of your system. But sometimes you need more than an hour long sweat sesh. Sometimes you need to go somewhere your snapchats won’t load, where you can see more than a few stars, where cooking your food requires an open flame.
Typically, to find such serenity, most of us would pack our cars full of camping gear and head 5 hours north to the Sierras. But I’m going to let you in on a little secret - there is a place less than an hour away where you can fully decompress with so much less hassle, and it lives up to its name: Magical Topanga Oasis.
Topanga Canyon is cozily tucked away in the Santa Monica Mountains surrounded on three sides by State Park or conservancy lands with the beaches of Malibu just to the southwest. Famously known by most as the place where Charles Manson took residence in the 60s, it’s also widely known as an area where many musicians, artists and actors choose to live - a place for people who want to enjoy a more simple way of life, off the grid and away from the buzz of Los Angeles.
When I was assigned to Magical Topanga Oasis on Hipcamp as my first Field Scout assignment I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I’ve always been a bit of a purist when it comes to camping - this would be my first “glamping” experience. But I’m currently in the middle of launching a company and mobile app, so some time spent away from the city without having to lug tents and coolers and sleeping bags was very much welcomed.
We took our time heading out Saturday afternoon. The beauty in this particular trip was that we had less than an hour drive to our destination. We arrived at the property around 4pm and were happily greeted by two of the sweetest pups, Blue and Bastian. Following our new furry friends we had an equally friendly introduction to our hosts Colleen and Mathew. We found them tidying up their garden boxes that are home to the likes of arugula, cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes and beets. After a brief tour and rundown of their lovely property, Mark and I were free to explore on our own.
Things are much simpler in the canyon. You would never guess that the city is just a stone’s throw away. We spotted lizards, gnarly spiders, snakes and even mice scattering about the property. Back in the city, those critters would leave us feeling a bit uncomfortable running free so close to our bed, but here, in Topanga Canyon, those little guys just felt like home.
We took our time exploring and familiarizing ourselves with the area and then decided to post up on the second-floor patio where there is a lovely view of the property and a comfy hammock to swing in.
From the second-floor there is a great view of the hills and trees that lie just past the property. It’s hard not to notice the abundance of birds fluttering about, in particular the feral parakeets that have also made Topanga Canyon their home. It can be a challenge to spot them, but you can certainly hear them. Occasionally you might just catch a flash of their bright green wings camouflaged in the Sycamore trees.
Mark and I sat sipping wine, eating chocolate and listening to the birds while watching the sun dip quietly behind the hills. Eventually we made our way back to our cozy little Lotus Belle tent to finish getting settled in before dinner.
Mathew helped us fire up the amazing wood burning grill and Blue watched patiently as we threw our kebabs and veggies on the fire. The grill gives everything a delicious mesquite taste, and of course we popped open another bottle of wine to loosen up just a bit more. In that moment, as we ate our dinner under the stars, listening to the crickets chirp, I was so very calm and relaxed - I didn’t even mind that a moth nearly drowned in my wine glass.
Finally, after a delicious dinner, we decided to turn in. The air had grown surprisingly cold, but the Lotus Belle was warm and comfy. Normally, when I camp, I have a hard time falling asleep on my first night. This night was different. Mark and I laid in the darkness for a bit listening to the hoots of owls and the chirps of crickets, and before I knew it, I was drifting off to sleep.
We were awoken in the morning by the sound of a rooster in the distance and the excited paws of Blue and Bastian pattering across the yard. I was expecting to wake groggy and a bit sore, as I usually do after camping in an unfamiliar place, but instead I found my head felt so clear and refreshed. Because of this, I assumed it must be late in the morning, only to find out it was just 6am. I can’t tell you the last time I happily awoke at 6am on a Sunday morning (the answer is: never.)
As clear and refreshed as we felt, coffee was still a priority. Mark and I slowly made our way from the tent with our percolator and coffee grounds and headed for the kitchen. After brewing a couple cups, we took a seat at the table on the front patio and quietly sat embracing the hazy morning air.
Eventually, Mathew joined us, where we had some nice conversation and he suggested a couple different trails for us to hike in Red Rock Canyon Park. The entrance to the park lies just a few hundred yards from their property, so it was a given we’d be spending the rest of our morning hiking (I'll get into the details of our hike in a later post).
After a couple miles meandering and taking in the views of Red Rock Canyon, we headed back to the property and sadly began packing up our belongings.
That following Monday morning was a tough pill to swallow, but knowing we can always retreat to Topanga Canyon for some R&R makes it just a little bit easier.
If you want to experience Magical Topanga Oasis for yourself, you can book your stay (and many other great camp spots) through HipCamp!